Endangered Animal Species: Part-9, Sumatran orangutan

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Endangered Animal Species: Part-9, Sumatran orangutan

The Sumatran orangutan is the largest Asian primate, after man, and is the rarer of the two extant species of orangutan. It is characterized by a reddish hair, this animal lives in the rainforests of Indonesia but due to the numerous fires that destroy the forests to give space to the intensive cultivation of oil palms, their existence is increasingly at risk, and the orangutan it has now become the symbol of deforestation and the disappearance of natural habitats.

Compared to the Bornean orangutan, the Sumatran orangutan has a more frugivorous and above all insectivorous diet. Its favorite fruits include figs and jackfruit, also feeding on bird eggs and small vertebrates. During the dry season, these animals also feed on the inner bark of trees.

The hair is long and smooth, reddish in color: the front legs are twice as long as the hind ones, as well as being more robust and muscular. Compared to the Bornean orangutans, these animals have a more slender constitution and a more elongated face, with a longer and lighter colored hair, in addition to the presence of a grizzled beard in both sexes but much longer and thicker in the males.

Endangered Animal Species: Part-8, Sumatran orangutan

The Sumatran orangutan is one of three orangutan species, endemic to the northern part of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It is rarer than the Bornean orangutan but more common than the Tapanuli orangutan, also endemic to Sumatra.

Currently, the distribution of these animals is limited to a fragmented series of rainforest areas in the northern tip of the island of Sumatra, in Indonesia: fossil remains indicate its past distribution, as well as on the entire island, also on nearby Java.

It prefers areas between 200 and 1000 m of altitude, but specimens can also be found at 2,000 m. Sumatran orangutans face threats such as logging (both legal and illegal), wholesale conversion of forests into agricultural land and oil palm plantations, and land fragmentation.

Companies use a deforestation method to reuse land for palm oil. This land is taken from the forest where Sumatran orangutans live. A forest loss assessment in the 1990s concluded that the forests home to at least 1,000 orangutans were lost each year within the Leuser ecosystem.

In 2017, around 82.5% of the Sumatran orangutan population was strictly confined to the northern tip of the island in Aceh province. Orangutans are rarely, if ever, found south of the Simpang Kanan River on the west side of Sumatra or south of the Asahan River on the east side.

The Pakpak Barat population, in particular, is the only population in Sumatra that is expected to be able to sustain orangutans in the long term given the current effects of habitat shift and human impact. While poaching is generally not a big deal for Sumatran orangutans, occasional local hunting has still reduced their population.

In the past, these animals were hunted in northern Sumatra for food; Although deliberate attempts to hunt orangutans are rare nowadays, locals such as the Bataks are known to eat nearly all vertebrates in the area. Additionally, Sumatran orangutans are seen as pests by local farmers, becoming targets of extermination if they are seen damaging or stealing crops.

In the commercial aspect, hunting for both dead and live specimens was also recorded as an effect of demand from zoos and European and North American institutions throughout the 20th century.